Completion of 140.6 miles of racing takes many things. Among them is faith. Faith that you’ve put in enough training, the right kind of training, and that Mother Nature won’t have it out for you like at IMAZ a couple weeks ago serving up a cold and rainy day.
Here’s an example. I was backpacking with our daughter in Sequoia National Park a couple years ago, 15 miles from civilization. As we were putting the finishing touches on packing up for the hike back out, bidding adieu to the other family that had shared the campsite with us the previous night, their Mom mentioned that somehow she’d lost her wedding ring “like a complete idiot! I washed my hands in the river 2 miles back and put the ring in my pocket for some stupid reason.” She was certain that she’d never see it again, “but if perhaps you see it, could you pick it up?” Are you serious? Millions of acres of national park land and I’m going to find a dropped wedding ring? I told I’d give it a try knowing that she was SOL as far as this ring went holding little hope that it would be seen by mankind again.
But if there’s one thing I’m good at, very good at actually, it's finding things. My daughter’s car keys, that misplaced earring belonging to my wife. I don’t know why, maybe it’s chromosomal. I enjoy the challenge of doing something others cannot and I’m patient. Very patient. Sort of like an iron distance event, right?
|Typical of the trails in Sequoia National Park, California|
So rather than hike at a break-neck pace like our girls, I took my time as we headed downhill out of Hamilton Lakes. After about half an hour of absolute concentration staring at the rocks and plants about my feet, under, and around every possible crevice seeing nothing other than more rocks and more plants, I thought I noticed a hint of grey. But aren’t wedding rings gold? Most of the ones I know are. It was just that this was something different. Maybe it was a tent grommet, or portion of some tarp in the distant past. As I bent over to retrieve it, I saw that indeed it was a ring. A ring with initials engraved in it. It was a wedding ring. THE wedding ring, the object of my search! Hot dog!!
I’m not sure why but I’d had the forethought to get the woman’s mailing address. Subconsciously cocky that I’d find it? Yes, you may be right. You are right. But later this year, you will be going to the start line of an Ironman, maybe your first IM, and you have to have more than just a little confidence that you’re going to succeed at your challenge.
The challenge of doing something that others cannot. You have to have at least a touch of “attitude.” I have a friend who was unsuccessful at her first IM attempt. Depressed, pissed off, you name it. She easily had the ability, but just needed "a little something," something to boost her over the top, past that psychological failure. In her case, tires, or so I thought. Not just any tires mind you, but "good luck" tires. She later signed up for a repeat try at the iron distance. so I did a little research on the upcoming course, talked it over with the pros at my local bike store, and took their recommendation on a pair of skins. When I presented them to her later, I emphasized the good luck nature of these babies. I don't know if I made any difference or not but the next time I saw her she was an Ironman finisher. And will be for the rest of her life!
As for the ring, I mailed it back to the owner at her Michigan address when we got home. Lucky me. Lucky her.
So in the hours before your first Ironman, review in your mind the effort expended to get there, the personal and family sacrifice that permitted you a shot at achieving what has probably been a goal for a good long while. Remind yourself that you have 17 full hours to finish this thing and that the goal, the only goal in your first attempt at this distance mind you, is finishing. Be nice if the first stop after crossing the finish line isn’t the medical tent too! Have faith.